Friday, August 10, 2007

House of Lords report on Internet personal security

Today the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee 5th Report of Session 2006-07 on Personal Internet Security has been published. The full publication is, as expected, quite voluminous (121 pages the report plus 449 the evidence) and it will take more than this coming weekend to go through it (I do have other commitments during weekends). However, having participated in the meetings that led to the Society for Computers and Law submission to the inquiry, I still find that for reasons that now seem obvious, some of the policies that developed countries pursue in relation to the information society always have the disadvantage of these countries having established that the protection of intellectual property rights is one of the most (or the most) important policies in the area. Again, it is clear that IP rights are necessary and allow the legal fiction of treating creations as property and, therefore, facilitate their transactibility, but putting them as the most important policy issue seem to create problems in other areas. From skimming through the report, it seems that the Lords suggest that more recourses need to be devoted to deal with Internet personal security issues, both at corporations and government level, but the issue is that money for protection and enforcement is a finite resource and needs to be prioritized it, and, if the priority is to use public resources to protect IP rights, Internet security takes, at best, a second row seat. The case is far more problematic in developing countries where due to external pressure and the globalisation of the developed countries’ level of IP rights, which includes criminalization of IP rights infringement, a substantive amount of very scarce resources needs to be devoted to the protection of certain industries rights, which lead the rest of the society “unprotected” from the growing threat of cybercrime. So it is not a problem of resources alone but one of allocation of them and societies will have to decide if protecting the profits of the IP-related industries is more important than the identity, finances and well being of the rest of the society (it will be too long to explain here, but it can be argued that the real threat of terrorism relates to cyber-terrorism). The danger exists though, that the entertainment industry will try, and succeed in, to tie security with IP rights violation and then increase the pressure to divest even more resources to protect them...and the winner is...

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